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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
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  #1  
Old 01-17-2010, 11:23 AM
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Ethanol in Gasoline

Every wonder why BMW dealers have kits to test the fuel in every BMW that is brought to them with performance issues? Several convenience store chains in our area are adding more than 10% ethanol to the gasoline, and are adding water as well. I've seen the dealer's tester vials floating more than 30% ethanol, and some with more than 30% ethanol with water as well. Direct injection engines start becoming vulnerable as ethanol blends surpass 8%.

One of the very large C-store chains in our area is paying for damaged engines, no questions asked. The dealer calls them and indicates that another customer is there with engine issues and gas receipts from their stores. The C-store chain tells them to "fix it and send us the bill". No complaints, no resistance. This tells me that they know exactly what they're doing and they're getting away with it on many of their customers, or the engine repairs would overcome the extra profit they're making with the high ethanol mixture along with any water that's added.

How do we stop this? For one, contact your representatives and let them know that the current levels are being fudged and it's already damaging engines. Ask them to vote against increasing the percentage until there is some way to guarantee that it will not be exceeded. I'm sure most of them are hearing from the marine business as they're suffering greatly with this blended fuel.

So, what is the eventual damage that this mixture imposes on people's cars that they know nothing about? What do we really know about the effect on our BMW's, other than watching BMW assume a defensive posture regarding this? This blend misrepresentation should be illegal, but apparently the state's gasoline testers only test for quantity, not quality or ethanol blend percentage. Or, they're being "paid off" to look the other way regarding quality.

I'm trying to purchase all of my gasoline from stations that have no ethanol blended into their gasoline. Fortunately we have several of those in this area. Obviously I'm vulnerable in all out-of-town travel plans, so I'll have to pursue Top Tier stations such as Shell and others when I travel.

Anyone have any other thoughts about all this?
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  #2  
Old 01-17-2010, 11:58 AM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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Ethanols not exactly cheaper then gas FYI. So while thye may be doing it, they would be dumb to do it for cost reasons. (at the sore level).

More then likely it has more to do with settling and usage issues.
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:10 PM
caseysc1 caseysc1 is offline
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Originally Posted by blau335 View Post
Ethanols not exactly cheaper then gas FYI. So while they may be doing it, they would be dumb to do it for cost reasons. (at the sore level).

More then likely it has more to do with settling and usage issues.
One of the local Shell dealers went from no ethanol to 10% ethanol because it's cheaper for him (so he says). That was back in the fall of last year and he has not changed back. He was the only one in my area that was ethanol-free.

I would gladly have paid $0.10/gallon more for the ethanol free, but I'm sure I'm in the very small minority.

I agree w/Dwayne. Time to write our legislators, but we need hard, verifiable facts for an argument. Would BMW support us with hard statistics on this? Also, we need to determine if this is isolated to one area.

Path forward?
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  #4  
Old 01-17-2010, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwaynemosley View Post
So, what is the eventual damage that this mixture imposes on people's cars that they know nothing about?


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Old 01-17-2010, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blau335 View Post
Ethanols not exactly cheaper then gas FYI. So while thye may be doing it, they would be dumb to do it for cost reasons. (at the sore level).

More then likely it has more to do with settling and usage issues.
My understanding is that Ethanol is subsidized thus it is cheaper to the station.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:16 PM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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My understanding is that Ethanol is subsidized thus it is cheaper to the station.
Even so I don't think stations mix it themselves, it comes from the regional distribution centers. The raw gas that comes out there isn't even any specific companies gas, which is why when you buy premium brands all you're paying for is the additive (mixed there) and the quality control.
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Old 01-17-2010, 04:33 PM
dbusiness dbusiness is offline
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Originally Posted by blau335 View Post
Even so I don't think stations mix it themselves, it comes from the regional distribution centers. The raw gas that comes out there isn't even any specific companies gas, which is why when you buy premium brands all you're paying for is the additive (mixed there) and the quality control.
Exactly, I believe the ethanol is blended at your local distribution point. I don't really understand how the ethanol % could have been more than 10% as most of that stuff is automated to some degree from my understanding.

I know that at the stations storage tank there can be water or trash in the fuel. This would be more likely at a no name independent as the big names have fuel quality sensors in the storage tanks they monitor and they can even remotely stop the station from dispensing gas.
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Old 01-17-2010, 04:54 PM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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Exactly, I believe the ethanol is blended at your local distribution point. I don't really understand how the ethanol % could have been more than 10% as most of that stuff is automated to some degree from my understanding.

I know that at the stations storage tank there can be water or trash in the fuel. This would be more likely at a no name independent as the big names have fuel quality sensors in the storage tanks they monitor and they can even remotely stop the station from dispensing gas.
Well, he is right that some stations have been found to be pumping gas with very high ethanol content. I was just questioning his conclusion as to the reason (owners motivated by profit) since it is likely false due to it being out of their control (unless they bought ethanol somewhere and dumped it in).

Most likely poor quality control and issues with low turnover causing settling and uneven distribution of product.

You can by ethanol testers, essentially you put x amount of fuel and x amount of water, put some dye in and shake. The dye only colors the water which absorbs the ethanol out of the fuel. The mixture then settles and you record the change in volume of the water. The amount it goes up is the amount in the fuel.
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  #9  
Old 01-17-2010, 06:19 PM
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The NSX is completely shut down by the ethanol in the gas.

Luckily the NSX has a drain plug in the bottom of the gas tank. Strange, but it sure is handy.

So apparently the ethanol is eating the fuel system because it clogs the fuel filter in one tank of gas.

Change fuel filter, and its good for another week or two. Then same problem happens again.

Florida law mandates that all gas contain 10% ethanol by 2011, so I think we are effectively screwed.
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:32 PM
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Ethanol and gas will separate over time.

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Old 01-17-2010, 07:06 PM
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Perhaps the distributor is the one diluting the gasoline then?
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:53 PM
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  #13  
Old 01-17-2010, 09:37 PM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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Originally Posted by 02 330Ci View Post
Perhaps the distributor is the one diluting the gasoline then?
They have no reason to and they are spot checked by themselves, the receiving companies and the state.

They would get caught very quick.


Like I said ethanol isn't cheaper, so there is no reason for them to dilute it. Subsidized or not, you cant subsidize something you aren't supposed to be doing.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:46 AM
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These things are mandated by law not for savings, nor for the environment. They are mandated because of the powerful Agricultural Lobby ensuring that farmers always have a market for their corn. it's not going to end.
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  #15  
Old 01-18-2010, 07:59 AM
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They have no reason to and they are spot checked by themselves, the receiving companies and the state.

They would get caught very quick.


Like I said ethanol isn't cheaper, so there is no reason for them to dilute it. Subsidized or not, you cant subsidize something you aren't supposed to be doing.
It has already been proven that this IS happening, I guess all these "accidents" are just a very strange "coincidence"
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:09 AM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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It has already been proven that this IS happening, I guess all these "accidents" are just a very strange "coincidence"
Um, you could imply in antagonistic way that I'm trying to say something thats happening is not, or you could actually read and see that I'm not syaing its not happening, I'm questioning the conclusion the OP made as to why.


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Well, he is right that some stations have been found to be pumping gas with very high ethanol content. I was just questioning his conclusion as to the reason (owners motivated by profit) since it is likely false due to it being out of their control (unless they bought ethanol somewhere and dumped it in).

Most likely poor quality control and issues with low turnover causing settling and uneven distribution of product.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:19 AM
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You guys are missing the obvious issue here completely.

We are putting ethanol into a system designed for only gasoline.

I sincerely doubt they have systems in place to keep the blend properly mixed.

E85 sitting in a beaker will seperate over time.

Its very likely that its separating and the delivery system is not designed to compensate for it.
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:49 AM
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Um, you could imply in antagonistic way that I'm trying to say something thats happening is not, or you could actually read and see that I'm not syaing its not happening, I'm questioning the conclusion the OP made as to why.
Perhaps I am misreading what you mean.
And I am sure many of the problems are not intentional. But I believe unscrupulous people will do what they can to stretch the supply and make more money. Adding ethanol is not needed, just add water, the ethanol will absorb the water and not let it separate out.
The more ethanol the more water can be added.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:03 PM
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You guys are missing the obvious issue here completely.

We are putting ethanol into a system designed for only gasoline.

I sincerely doubt they have systems in place to keep the blend properly mixed.

E85 sitting in a beaker will seperate over time.

Its very likely that its separating and the delivery system is not designed to compensate for it.
When the station orders fuel it is more than likely because they took the 10 ft stick
and measured the tank. This is the same opening that 3000 + gals worth of fuel goes into.
It should mix the fuel in the tank with the new fuel being added. My station gets a truck
about every 3 or 4 days so I can definately say there should be no issues with that stations gas.

This gas is kept mixed in your tank when you accelerate and decelerate. And yes I know
the cars tank has baffles in it to prevent liquid surge.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:34 PM
blau335 blau335 is offline
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Originally Posted by dbusiness View Post
When the station orders fuel it is more than likely because they took the 10 ft stick
and measured the tank. This is the same opening that 3000 + gals worth of fuel goes into.
It should mix the fuel in the tank with the new fuel being added. My station gets a truck
about every 3 or 4 days so I can definately say there should be no issues with that stations gas.

This gas is kept mixed in your tank when you accelerate and decelerate. And yes I know
the cars tank has baffles in it to prevent liquid surge.
Even if the gas is mixed in the cars gas tank, that means nothing when it's already a high % ethanol.

It's likely more of a problem with the crappy no name gas stations that sell very low volume with low turnover.
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:26 AM
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So here's a question -- Is it safe to run race gas (100 octane) all the time in a stock setup? I have drums of the stuff available locally and it may be a better alternative to pump gas for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the ethanol.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:08 PM
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I believe that the engine is designed to run on up to 97 octane since 95 to 97 octane is what is available in Europe.
Not 100% certain but pretty sure you wouldn't have much of a problem but wouldn't hurt to contact a performance shop
and ask them.
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Old 01-19-2010, 06:52 PM
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Running higher octane will make your dme adjust to the highest octane its designed for, which I think is 93 obtain, so you would be wasting the extra octane.

However, its better than running water and alcohol through your motor...
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:48 PM
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I read through the manual and they say that 91 AKI is recommended. Wiki says that are gas is 5 or 6 points behind other countries. Does that mean that you should be using the 97 octane in Europe? Anyways try running some traps with regular gas and the 100 octane and post back here.
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Old 01-20-2010, 08:23 AM
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I read through the manual and they say that 91 AKI is recommended. Wiki says that are gas is 5 or 6 points behind other countries. Does that mean that you should be using the 97 octane in Europe? Anyways try running some traps with regular gas and the 100 octane and post back here.
Are you sure you're not confusing RON and AKI?

The RON rating (shown on pumps in Europe) is almost always a few points higher than the AKI rating (shown on pumps here).
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